My presence was unexpected. I glance at my watch. It’s too early for him to be home.
He stares as if confronting a ghost.
“Aren’t you supposed to be in class?”
“I finished early.’
We stand frozen in position on concrete. Me, holding a textbook and purse. Him, a suitcase.
I ask, “Going somewhere?”
“I’ll be in touch.” The car door slams.
The Chevy shifts into reverse and backs up the driveway. Wheels catch at the steep part of the grade. His foot pushes hard onto the accelerator. The Impala leaps the rise.
I chase him, run to the top of the hill, watch as the tail lights fade, the car a blur in the distance. Once I realize that I can not stop him, that he isn’t turning back, I return to the house. Opening the door to his cupboard, I notice one suit remains. I take this as a sign of hope.
The scent of tobacco lingers. I ease the jacket from the hanger and bury my face into the sleeve. I let tears wet the wool.
This isn’t the story I share with Margaret. Instead I tell her I have just this morning, broken up with a guy. It isn’t exactly truth however it allows me to feel less defeated. I can’t speak of Roy. It would be too chancy.
Margaret wields the teapot. She allows me to wallow in grief. When one cup empties, she pours another. This is the code of women, the luxury of holding space for one another. Or as my mother might say of the sisters, “the polite pause before they bury the body.”
There is no doubt. Margaret is in charge of our discussion. She raises her pinky and turns to her sister. “Good riddance, I say.” Both women nod in agreement.
“Chin up, dearie,” sister says. “March on.”
A certain shabbiness rumbles deceit and rheumy eyes are evidence. Sister’s eyes mirror too many surrenders, too much disappointment. Margaret’s are resolute. Yet, both women offer up saucers of hope as they perch and trill like skylarks on a branch.
For a moment, I wonder. When did he become someone else? Was it before his trip or after? My eyes narrow as I scan the past for clues. What was it he had said as the potatoes were set upon the table?
He had said, “Feels like we only go backwards, baby.”
He has cheapened himself. I notice the golden horn dangling about his neck. His fitted shirt is made of fortrel. The collar splays open. He’d look good in a rainstorm.
A rustle carries me home to the present. Sister stands and places her hand upon my shoulder. Fingers press as she speaks.
“All good things end, child.”
I had thought we were the exception…
~ Excerpt From the Scene: Roy Splits